Tristan Strong, Book 1 Tristan Strong Punches a Hole in the Sky

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Best-selling author Rick Riordan presents Kwame Mbalia's epic fantasy, a middle grade American Gods set in a richly-imagined world populated with African American folk heroes and West African gods.
Seventh grader Tristan Strong feels anything but strong ever since he failed to save his best friend when they were in a bus accident together. All he has left of Eddie is the journal his friend wrote stories in. Tristan is dreading the month he's going to spend on his grandparents' farm in Alabama, where he's being sent to heal from the tragedy.
But on his first night there, a sticky creature shows up in his bedroom and steals Eddie's notebook. Tristan chases after it--is that a doll?--and a tug-of-war ensues between them underneath a Bottle Tree. In a last attempt to wrestle the journal out of the creature's hands, Tristan punches the tree, accidentally ripping open a chasm into the MidPass, a volatile place with a burning sea, haunted bone ships, and iron monsters that are hunting the inhabitants of this world.
Tristan finds himself in the middle of a battle that has left black American folk heroes John Henry and Brer Rabbit exhausted. In order to get back home, Tristan and these new allies will need to entice the god Anansi, the Weaver, to come out of hiding and seal the hole in the sky. But bartering with the trickster Anansi always comes at a price. Can Tristan save this world before he loses more of the things he loves?---from the publisher
496 pages                                              978-1368039932                                     Ages 9-13
Keywords:  epic fantasy, legends, action/adventure, magic, heroes, friends, friendship, loss, grief, family, grandparents, African American, African American author, diversity, diverse books, finding yourself, 9 year old, 10 year old, 11 year old, 12 year old, 13 year old, self image, self reliance
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Life has knocked Tristan down.  He's only 12 but he's already lost his best friend, Eddie.  Eddie was the guy who worked on the journal with Tristan.  Eddie was the guy who understood Tristan.  Now he's gone and all Tristan has left is the journal the two friends were still creating when Eddie was lost in the accident.
To make life even more miserable Tristan has to get in the car with his grandfather who has only criticism for Tristan and his grandmother who just might know more than she lets on.  As they travel together back to his grandparents' farm, Tristan begins to notice that the journal, lying on the seat beside him to keep him company, is beginning to glow.  Or is it?  Is it just his imagination?
Arriving at the farm Tristan's grandfather immediately puts him to work.  So, he's tired that night when he finally gets into bed and the last thing he expects is the doll baby across the room to start moving toward him.  The last thing he expects is the baby to steal his treasured journal.  The last thing he expects is to find himself in a parallel universe where legends and folk characters are gathering to defend the world against the darkest forces.
This is a beautifully woven adventure tale that blends occasional humor with  the honor held in African American legend and folklore and with the rising recognition of the power each of us holds within especially when faced with times and challenges that force us to discover our own heroism.  A powerful gift to hand any child and a glorious invitation to a world where the culture is powerful and creates a place for every child to stand with pride.
Recommended by:  Barb Langridge, abookandahug.com

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